The Harbinger Online

Opinionated: Sick Days

Curled up on the couch on Wednesday night, I was home alone. I was thoroughly warmed by two blankets, a kitten and a dog. I had a cup of chai tea. I had just finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and was cracking the binding on The Great Gatsby. I had my iPod with a newly downloaded Ed Sheeran album. I had just topped off a Harry Potter marathon and was half an episode into a Golden Girls marathon. I was more relaxed than I’d been in weeks.That morning, I was in a state of sheer panic. I’d gotten sick the morning of the PSAT. The doctor informed me that I’d need to stay out of school for two days, to make sure I wasn’t contagious. I couldn’t go out to lunch with my friends as scheduled, and I was missing a newspaper deadline. And College Night. And youth group. And basketball conditioning.

This was a catastrophe.

You have to understand this about me: I never stop moving. I’m constantly doing something, constantly over-programmed and overscheduled, constantly trying to cram even more activities into my schedule.

But I’m not complaining. I like it that way.

When I was in middle school, I played three sports at the same time. I’d get picked up from school and go straight to dance class for two hours, then to basketball practice for another two hours, then to soccer. I’m still not sure when I ate.

When I got to East, I realized that my homework load wasn’t going to let me keep this up. I dropped soccer and dance. But every time I tried to drop an extracurricular to make more time for myself, something else came along that I just had to try.

I picked up cross country and journalism as soon as I hit high school. And on top of that, I started spending more and more time at church for youth groups, bible studies and choir practices. The hectic schedule remained and I didn’t mind.

Without that schedule, even for a few days, I had no idea what to do.

My mom could tell I was upset when we got out of the doctor’s office. As I moped to the car, she suggested that we go out for lunch. After lunch, we stopped at Starbuck’s and then went to Half Price Books, where we picked up a couple of thick classics to read while I was sick.

When I got home, I curled up in the living room, where my dad was watching the History Channel. I read and watched TV, chatting for an hour or so with my dad. Then my parents and I went out to dinner at Freebirds before leaving me home alone, on the couch in a state of pure, relaxed bliss.

It was only after “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was almost over that I realized how good a day of relaxation had been for me.

I used to spend hours detailing the plots of different books I was reading to my parents. When I was little, my dad and I used to get up early on Sunday mornings so that we could eat donuts and watch cheesy Sci-Fi shows. Now, I get up early on Sunday mornings to finish homework before heading off to church.

My family hardly ever has the opportunity to spend over an hour laughing over burritos. At dinner, I’m normally exhausted from conditioning, and after shoveling food into my face and giving a quick rundown of my day, I’ll often excuse myself from the table to finish the night’s stack of homework.

I certainly don’t spend hours watching “Golden Girls” and reading books anymore. I used to go through more than one book a week. Now, that seems like a nearly impossible feat.

I’m not saying I’m going to change my lifestyle because of a few days of sickness. I still love being busy, and I can’t wait to leap back into the everyday hustle and bustle. But I’ve realized that I don’t need to be hectic and busy every second of the day.

I need to prioritize. I need to find time, even if it’s just half an hour, to sit and read and watch old TV shows. I need to find time, even if it means waking up before the sun rises, to have donuts and watch “Stargate” with my dad. I need to find time for these little things, because sometimes, they can make me happier than any Best in Show award or spot on the basketball team could.

Maybe I need to get sick more often.

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